In spirit with being in tune with the outdoor elements breakfast is served outside, at the “elegant Long Pavilion” as we kept jokingly calling the Long Pavillion because we were amused by their old-school description. The Queensland sun is already so intense that tables are set up on the terrace where a really standout a-la-carte breakfast is served.

They bring you freshly squeezed juice and coffee while you order from a menu, including eggs done any way, gourmet cheeses, meats, waffles and butter milk hot cakes with Kaffir lime syrup.

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The food at Qualia was really fantastic: fresh, bountiful, beautiful prepared with gourmet flair, but not pretentious or fussy. Sheira and I initially thought, how the hell are we going to cope with 2 restaurants for all our meals over 3 days? We like variety. Both of the restaurants are so wonderful - and all meals and non-alcoholic beverages are included in your room price. We ended up enjoying the ease of eating in the compound - which is normally not our style at all. But the food and surroundings were so good that there was no need to look further afield, which took away all the usual research and decision-making about meals.

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LONG PAVILION| Qualia Whitsundays |
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We enjoyed the open-air dining here at lunch, with the gourmet version of informal food that’s fun to eat poolside, like spicy tiger prawns, tempura and club sandwiches. And the kitchen send out freshly baked chocolate croissants while you are kicking back in the deckchairs. You can stay by the pool for lunch if you don’t feel like walking 20 metres into the restaurant.

If you want a change from the pool (and there is a good chance you won’t!) I recommend getting the hotel to set up a table and chairs for a private lunch on the sand at Pebble Beach as well. It’s totally idyllic right by the turquoise Whitsunday water…

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PEBBLE BEACH| Qualia Whitsundays |
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We had dinner at this restaurant, elevated up on the hill, every night and chose the outside terrace. It is still partially covered but there are four tables that are literally under the stars - I recommend that you book them; it’s incredibly magical.

There are fantastic wines - a great intro if you want to become acquainted with a world class Australian wine - and set menus each night, with three choices of entrees, main course and dessert. The seafood in this island region is so fresh and there are beautiful dishes like crispy skin coral trout but if, like us, you aren’t fish oriented there are always other options and plenty of variety: chicken, beef, ravioli, terrine and salsa and tempura rolls... It is fine dining but not fussy food with tiny portions and a drizzle – it’s hearty. But the cuisine can also be imaginative and innovative, with combinations like pork belly topped with scallops or unusual desserts, like a chocolate dome with milk jam ice cream, citrus ravioli and lemon verbena soup - none of which we have ever seen before.

We keep it pretty lean and healthy but if you are a real foodie then Qualia’s kitchen will bring it on with an indulgent, 7-course degustation menu that a lot of guests try. It’s a banquet, with a succession of dishes like kangaroo tail consommé, quail, foie gras, margarita sherbet, milk-fed veal loin and malt ice cream. So they can do posh, but they aren’t precious. If you want something special to eat you can pre-arrange it. And when we approached the kitchen with Sheira’s special dietary needs they were unbelievably obliging.

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We found ourselves relaxing more than we ever usually do so we broke our usual practice and ordered room service here. Qualia encourage you to go to the Long Pavilion for dinner, which is a must, but sometimes you wind down so much you just want to stay in fluffy robe mode. One night we were watching a great movie and enjoying the view from our beautiful room and thought, at $AUS1,700 per night, why leave this stunning space? So they set dinner up on our own private terrace. Room Service is somewhat limited, as they have to bring the food quite a distance form the kitchen to ones pavilion, however what is available from room service will come from the same menu planned for that day, so you don’t miss out.

By the way, do not bother looking outside Qualia for somewhere to eat on Hamilton Island. When Sheira and I took the electric buggy out on the first day to try a recommended restaurant we felt like we had buggied right onto the set of “Fantasy Island!” Although our mode of transport was fitting we thought, why deal with the island kitsch atmosphere everywhere else when we have the class of Qualia on tap? You just won’t get the same experience by eating outside.

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